Recently, my son, Rev. Raymond A. Gough, pastor of New Limerick Baptist Church in Maine, wrote the following paragraph on Facebook:
As I was vacuuming today I was reminded of James 2:26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Here’s the analogy that ran through my head. While not spiritual in nature I can apply it. For a week and a half I have been studying the internet on the best way to keep the house straightened and clean. Lot’s of great info on the net by the way. All very useful. However, I noticed that no matter how much I researched, the house did not clean itself; very disappointing for me! So I had to stop my research on cleaning and actually do it. Then the verse from James came to me. It wasn’t enough to study and learn how to clean and straighten the house I actually have to get up and do it to see results! As Christians it is not enough for us to attend church, read our bibles and pray. If we want to see the results of God’s Word carried out in our world today we must apply what we have learned in order for us to see the fruit of love and grace spread throughout the world. Amazing what you can learn from vacuuming!
While my son doesn’t mention Christmas in his post, I believe it does relate to Christmas, which is only two days from now. During the past four weeks of the Advent\Christmas season, Christians have been preparing for and celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus. Christian churches have been well attended. We have sung the songs of Chritmas. We have read and heard the Bible stories about how Jesus will bring peace, love, and joy to the world. But on the day after Christmas, most Americans, including Christians, will get back to business as usual. And if the near future is going to be anything like the recent past, it will seem that there will be very little peace, love, and joy in the world. The question then will be, where is all the peace, love, and joy we were singing and hearing about during the Advent/Christmas season? As in previous years, many will go back to hearing all the bad news and feeling hopeless.
I believe that the problem is what my son mentions in his post above. The authorities who know all about house cleaning, and the products they suggest we use, aren’t going to clean our homes. Actually, they will all do their parts, through their advice and guidance on house cleaning, but we will also have to do our part. You might say that we will have to act as partners with the authorities and their products, if we really want to make and keep our homes clean.
In the same way, we will have to do our part. God is looking for us to partner with him in fulfilling the promises of peace, that came with the birth of Jesus. The question is not simply, “What is Jesus going to do about the bad news and hopelessness in our world these days”. The question is, “What does he want us to do about it?” Or to put it another way, “What does he want to do with us?”
As the Advent/Christmas season comes to an end, our responsibility is now and has always been to discern God’s will and plans for us as we go through another year. And then use the grace that God offers to all people to participate with him in fulfilling our hope for peace, love, and joy. The good news is that to the extent that we do that (participate with God), we will be able to see evidence and experience good news in the midst of bad news and hope where things seem to be hopeless.
Grace and peace, Ray